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story.lead_photo.caption In this photo provided on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, by China National Space Administration via Xinhua News Agency, Yutu-2, China's lunar rover, leaves wheel marks after leaving the lander that touched down on the surface of the far side of the moon. A Chinese spacecraft on Thursday, Jan. 3, made the first-ever landing on the far side of the moon, state media said. The lunar explorer Chang'e 4 touched down at 10:26 a.m., China Central Television said in a brief announcement at the top of its noon news broadcast. (China National Space Administration/Xinhua News Agency via AP)

China's rover heads off on moon mission

BEIJING -- A Chinese space rover explored the lunar terrain on Friday in the world's first mission on the surface of the far side of the moon.

Jade Rabbit 2 drove off a ramp the previous night and onto the soft, powdery surface after a Chinese spacecraft made the first-ever soft landing on the moon's far side. A photo posted online by China's space agency showed tracks left by the rover as it headed away from the spacecraft.

"It's a small step for the rover, but one giant leap for the Chinese nation," Wu Weiren, the chief designer of the Lunar Exploration Project, told state broadcaster China Central Television, in a twist of U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong's famous comment when he became the first human to walk on the moon in 1969. "This giant leap is a decisive move for our exploration of space and the conquering of the universe."

Previous moon landings, including America's six manned missions from 1969 to 1972, have been on the near side of the moon, which faces Earth. The far side has been observed many times from lunar orbits, but never explored on the surface.

China's space community is taking pride in the successful landing, which posed technical challenges because the moon blocks direct communication between the spacecraft and its controllers on Earth. China has been trying to catch up with the United States and other nations in space exploration.

Gunmen ransack Gaza TV studios

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- A Palestinian broadcasting corporation said masked gunmen have raided its studios in the Gaza Strip.

Images circulating in the incident's aftermath Friday showed the TV station's Gaza headquarters strewn with shattered glass and destroyed equipment.

The Interior Ministry, controlled by Gaza's Hamas rulers, said it is investigating the raid on the Palestinian Authority-run corporation.

Tensions have spiked recently between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement in the West Bank and Hamas, its bitter rival in Gaza.

Hamas accuses Abbas of slashing salaries for civil servants in Gaza to pressure the Islamic movement into ceding control. Fatah also plans to defy a Hamas ban and celebrate its anniversary with an open-air rally Monday.

Thailand blasted with wind, rain

NAKHON SI THAMMARAT, Thailand -- Rain, wind and surging seawater from a tropical storm buffeted coastal villages and world-famous tourist resorts on southern Thailand's east coast on Friday, knocking down trees and utility poles and flooding roads.

One person was reported dead and another missing after a fishing boat with a crew of six capsized in high waves, but there were no reports of major damage by nightfall. It appeared that Tropical Storm Pabuk caused aggravation during the country's high tourist season but less damage than had been feared.

Airlines and boat operators suspended operations for safety reasons and tourists were forced to change travel plans.

Beaches were closed, but even with the bad weather approaching, tourists on the popular island of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand continued to patronize bars and restaurants catering to them.

Ahead of this week's storm, more than 6,100 people in four provinces were evacuated, according to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.

The Meteorological Department said the storm in late afternoon had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, down from 47 mph when it hit land shortly after noon.

The agency continued to warn of strong winds and waves 10 to 16 feet high in the Gulf of Thailand and 6 to 10 feet in the Andaman Sea.

-- Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports

A Section on 01/05/2019

Print Headline: China's rover heads off on moon mission Gunmen ransack Gaza television studios Storm blasts Thailand with wind, rain Illegal crossings at EU borders hit a low

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